§ Order for Committee read.
§ House in Committee.
§ (In the Committee).
§ Clauses 1 to 11 inclusive, agreed to.
§ Clause 12 (Duties on Timber and Wood),
§ MR. FENWICK
said, the effect of the proposed measure would be to impose a duty of 1s. per load on a species of wood extensively imported into the north. It was called spars, was of an inferior description, and was principally used for mining purposes. No doubt 1s. per load was a reduction of the present duty, but in consequence of the mode in which spars were measured by the Customs the new duty would in reality amount to something like 3s. per load. He hoped the Chancellor of the Exchequer would give the House an assurance that the duty would be charged in such a way that the importers would have to pay Is. per load only.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, he had no difficulty in giving his hon. Friend the assurance which he asked, for it never was his intention to maintain under the new law those measurements of woods of this description which might be perfectly intelligible, but which were not equitable, and which existed under the old system of the timber duties. It was not intended, in short, to abandon the mode of measurement hitherto practised by the Customs, and the new duty would be put as nearly at 1s. for the quantity mentioned as it would be possible to do.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
The duty would follow the same manner, and be made more equitable.
§ MR. BUCHANAN
said, that staves used by coopers for herring barrels had been excepted from duty under the old law, and he regretted to see that the right hon. Gentleman still proposed to make them no longer an exception. He thought all staves ought to be treated alike. He wished further to observe, in reference to the tea and sugar duties, which had been fixed for a year only, that the system was most inconvenient to the trade generally. If they had been taken for five years or more, it would have been far more agreeable to the trades. He hoped the House and country would long have the benefit of the services of the right hon. Gentleman in the office which he so much adorned, and then perhaps he would consider this question and bring it to a settlement.
said, he was glad the right hon. Gentleman seemed willing to do justice to the dealers in staves, but his morality appeared to be this, that so long as the duty was high, it was right to charge them three times too much, but now it would be low he did not intend to charge more than the proper amount. This evidently was the reasoning of the right hon. Gentleman.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
observed, that the criticism of the right hon. Gentleman applied to an abstract Chancellor of the Exchequer. The present did not hold himself responsible for schemes of duty devised before he was born. The exemption of staves for herring barrels was an old exemption, which probably it was thought invidious to destroy. The exemption of staves in general was introduced under the Government of Sir Robert Peel about 1842, when the cooperage trade of this country was labouring under severe competition; but, the principle of a nominal duty being now established, it was the opinion of a large portion of the trade that a uniform duty should be fixed, and so this low duty on staves was proposed and adopted by the House. He thought that there was great force in what the hon. Gentleman said with regard to the duties on tea and sugar, and he trusted that whoever might in future occupy the office of Chancellor of the Exchequer would be enabled to adopt a system which would give the commercial community a larger outlook with respect to these duties than they could have under a provisional arrangement.
§ MR. HALIBURTON
said, he had a matter of great importance, affecting the colony with which he was connected, to bring under the notice of the House; but at that late hour (twenty-five minutes to twelve o'clock) he thought it would not be advisable to attempt to make the long statement he should be obliged to offer to the Committee. He therefore moved that the Chairman report progress.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, he was quite certain that though the hour might be considered late in some countries, it was according to the usages of that House an early hour. At present there was a most favourable and satisfactory state of things for the discussion of the question, the House being in a calm and temperate mood, and having nothing to sway its judgment, and if the hon. Gentleman would proceed with the statement he had to make on the present occasion he would find it so agree able a duty that the House would doubtless frequently in future have the pleasure of listening to him at a similar hour in the evening.
§ MR. HALIBURTON
observed, that he felt he had no alternative but to go on; but he assured the Committee that he never rose under circumstances of such embarrassment. He proposed to move that in page 16, line 31 of the Bill, after "sawn or split, planed or dressed," should be inserted, "except deals, battens, and boards, which shall remain at the present duty." No person reading the short line in the paragraph to which his Amendment would apply could suppose that underneath those ordinary words lay a measure of as great importance as ever was brought before the House. When he considered that the persons he represented belonged to a colony unrepresented in that House, and without any official organ in this country to make their wants known to the Government, and that he, who now rose to advocate their interests, was a stranger in this country, without any sort of interest beyond that which consisted in the feeling of all Englishmen to do right, he felt such discouragement come over him as he believed no other man had ever felt before. It was needless for him to say that British America was a forest country, and its only or main export was timber. Therefore the interests of the whole people were more or less involved in the trade; but in this country, where there were so many vast interests, if one was ruined the 2098 whole country was not thereby affected. All other interests were ably and efficiently represented in that House—the cork-cutters, paper-makers, and others, who were all for free trade for the rest of the world, but Protectionists for themselves—these were represented by men so able, that they could draw from the ranks of Freetraders some of its oldest advocates to say that they approved of the doctrine, except where their constituents were concerned. But who was there to speak for the absent men, out of sight, yet intelligent, able, enterprising, and loyal, who formed the foundation of a large empire? If he felt discouragement under these circumstances he could not derive much consolation when he considered that the present was the measure of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, one of the most eloquent, able, ingenious, and persuasive of men, but who, according to his own expression the other night was impervious to any argument. When he saw the majority on the opposite benches in favour of free trade and the abolition of all duties, he felt that the tide was running against him, and that it was hopeless for him to make an application to that House for assistance. Still, he would appeal from the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer to the good honest feeling of Englishmen, who proverbially loved fair play, and who, if they could not assist, at least sympathised with the weaker party. In former days it was the policy of this country to nurture its colonies. That was the period when the Gentlemen on his side of the House were known by the well-defined and time-honoured name of Tories, and before the new sliding-scale sort of nomenclature of Conservatives—Liberal Conservatives—progressive Conservatives—came into fashion, together with a variety of other names of very little meaning and much less sense. In those good old times it was the habit of the country to rely on its Colonies, and he recollected that in his younger days the toast drank on all occasions was "Ships, colonies, and commerce." Those good old days were passed, and now it was "cotton twist and cotton yarn" instead of "colonies and commerce." In these good old days it was thought necessary to cultivate the Colonies, and, on this principle, that those who begot children were bound to protect and support them. On the same principle, a nation which planted colonies ought to support and protect them until they were 2099 able to support and protect themselves. Therefore every encouragement was given to that forest country to furnish supplies of timber to England at a period when the North of Europe, the only other place that England could get timber from, was, by the machinations of the uncle of the present Emperor of the French, closed to this country. In 1842, Sir R. Peel reduced the scale of these duties, with the view of giving the people of England the benefit of competition between North America and the North of Europe. Now, he found no fault with the principle of that proposal, but with the mode then, as now adopted, without notice and by surprise, of throwing the colonists on their backs in an instant. What was the consequence? One of the ablest men in Canada, whom he had seen within the last few days, computed the loss to that colony caused by a little clause of four or five words, just like that of the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, at £3,000,000 sterling. The loss to New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, his own knowledge of which was more extensive, he estimated at £2,000,000 more; making altogether £5,000,000. Other reductions took place, and now the competition had reached this point, that the trade in America, which was rather on the decrease, while the foreign tonnage and foreign importations had of late years largely increased. It had also become a sort of gambling trade. If the supply from the Baltic was not very great, there was a chance of our own colonists coming in and reaping some little profit. At other periods they barely realized the cost of production: and it was at such a time, with things in that position, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had chosen for introducing, without notice, his scheme for equalizing these duties. The matter was one of great importance, not with respect to the few shillings a ton, but on the tenure of our colonies. He entreated the House to consider whether it was their intention to put it out of the power of those colonies to belong to them or not. He wished to warn the Government against the course they were pursuing. He could tell them, from his knowledge of the people of North America, that this measure was cutting the first strand of the cable which connected these provinces with this country. When the first step was being taken to equalize the duties on Baltic and American timber the colonists were engaged in arranging their spring exporta- 2100 tions to Liverpool. Among the rest was a person named M'Avity, the Mayor of the city of St. John's, the capital of New Brunswick. That gentleman was in this country on his private affairs, as was often the case with almost every other timber merchant in St. John's, New Brunswick; and to his astonishment he learnt from the papers that the Government proposed to abolish the differential duties on timber. Mr. M'Avity was a very respectable man, filling an office to which he had been elected by a very different class from the £6 householders who were about to receive the franchise in England, although he certainly desired to cast no disparagement on the gentlemen who composed the "Strikes" of this country. Mr. M'Avity addressed a letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in which there was really nothing impertinent. Private affairs, said the writer, required him to return in a few days to his native land; but he was confident the right hon. Gentleman could not be aware of the extreme injury which the new scale of duties would inflict on Her Majesty's subjects in New Brunswick, more especially on those engaged in the manufacture and exportation of deals. He also expressed his belief that he and his fellow colonists who had invested large sums of money in saw-mills and other requirements of the trade, upon the faith of the continuance of the present duties, had on that and other grounds a just claim to be heard before any change was made. In this country they could not hint a change of duties without it being instantly conveyed by post or telegraph to John O'Groat's house. And immediately up got the hon. Gentleman having the honour to represent the very fertile regions where that House stood, to make known the wants of the gentlemen of groats. But Mr. M'Avity also respectfully avowed his conviction that should the proposed change be carried out without reasonable opportunity being afforded to the interests affected to express their opinions upon it, "such a hasty proceeding would undoubtedly cause serious discontent among a people who had always been conspicuous for their attachment to the institutions of this country." Well, if there was anything improper in the tone of that letter perhaps some hon. Member would be good enough to point it out to him, for he confessed, as a poor simple-minded colonist, that he had wholly failed to discover it. Now came the right hon. Gentleman's answer, an answer he must say not 2101 exactly such as he thought it becoming in a Chancellor of the Exchequer to make. It was very haughty and very supercilious. What! a man from New Brunswick, who could not in any way influence a vote in that House—what sort of a fellow was that to approach a dignitary like a British Chancellor of the Exchequer! The man must have been dumb-founded before he got home, if he did not actually die from fright. "In your letter," said the right hon. Gentleman, "you protest as well as remonstrate." Dreadful words! One would have fancied the man must have used some terrible oaths, or discharged some extraordinary Yankee expletives, at the least. But, after all, he only "protested"—a thing which our noble Foreign Secretary has been so much blamed of late for not doing on the Savoy question. But the right hon. Gentleman appeared to have got excited by the hardihood of this gentleman in venturing to "protest and remonstrate"—horrid words!—against any change in the timber duties until the people of New Brunswick had had "an opportunity of stating their views on the subject." "Were I to examine your language critically," he proceeded, "I could not admit your title, even individually, to protest against any legislation which Parliament may think it right to adopt for the equalization of the duties on foreign and colonial wood. [Cries of "Hear, hear," from the Ministerial side.] Yes, they would "hear" something more yet. "And when you desire to remonstrate 'on behalf of the inhabitants of a colony,' I must observe that such remonstrance ought to be addressed to the Secretary of State for the Colonies"—here spake the Circumlocution Office! "who would exercise his discretion as to bringing them before the Minister of Finance." That was a way of conciliating the Colonies, certainly! A mere colonist had no right, to use the words "protest and remonstrate;" they were highly indecent to English ears, especially if addressed to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Emperors only were at liberty to utter them. That was the mode in which a Minister of the Crown addressed the people of British North America—men very different from their £6 voters, who did not know what they were talking about. A colonist was told that he must not presume to approach a personage like the Chancellor of the Exchequer of all England. He, the mayor of a pettifogging place, St. John's, New Brunswick, must go back to his own country and 2102 then address his Governor, who would forward his protest to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, who would exercise his discretion whether he should bring it before the Finance Minister. Probably it would never be laid before that Minister at all, because, long before this colonist reached his home and got through the Circumlocution Office, the Bill would have been framed by Parliament, and that would be the answer which his protest would receive. There were, however, other duties besides paper duties, and there were responsibilities besides those of responsible advisers. The Chancellor of the Exchequer went on to say that as his correspondent was about to quit England he would waive all regard to the considerations which he had alluded to, but he begged leave to say that there were no circumstances or arguments that could have led any persons interested in colonial timber and exercising ordinary prudence to reckon on the permanence of a law for retaining the differential duties on timber. But surely plain principles of justice suggested that if their export trade was to be cut off it should not be without some little notice. If prudent men would not have had any such reliance, he could only say that the people of all British North America were very imprudent people. When the principle was announced that it was intended to give the English public the benefit of competition with the foreigner, was the differential duty not reduced to the lowest minimum? And when the trade could hardly support itself, why were the colonists to consider that the differential duty would not be continued? The Chancellor of the Exchequer said that no expectation could be formed of this, for the legislation for a long series of years was founded on the principle of first abating and then destroying these duties, and the only wonder was that they should have lasted so long. Then the right hon. Gentleman said:—"You describe this change as destructive of the trade and of the property of the colonists. If so, it can only be because the differential duty exacts from the people of England, who provide for the military and naval defence of New Brunswick at their own charge, an artificial price for its produce." Now, this would be an ungenerous expression, if even it were true; but, in point of fact, there was not a word of truth in it. England protect New Brunswick, of all countries in the world! Did the English Government protect it when they sent Lord Ashburton 2103 with a dash of his pen to strike off one-third of the colony, surrendering its hest timber land, compelling a colonist to pass through a portion of the United States in order to reach his own capital, and cutting off his postal connection with Canada. If this was protection the people of New Brunswick might be able to defend themselves against their enemies, but it would be hard to save themselves from their friends. Again, did the English Government protect Nova Scotia when they abandoned its fisheries to the Americans? In such hot haste was this done that when the delegates who, to put on a plausible appearance, had been sent for from Nova Scotia arrived at Quebec, they found the treaty signed. This treaty surrendered the best fishery in the whole world, and contained a most ignorantly conceived clause, which enabled the Americans to spread their nets and cure their fish upon the uninhabited parts of the coast, the fact being that there was not an acre of unoccupied land on the whole shore of New Brunswick, so that the Americans had actually the right to spread their nets upon any field which was not ploughed and under-cropped. Was that protection? In much the same way Canada was protected, when so badly drawn up was the last treaty, that the colonists found themselves debarred from a trade which they had anticipated, because it was a coasting trade, and never got the navigation of the American canals in return for equivalent concessions which they were called upon to make. Was it protection to the North-West when, by a blunder which upon a competitive examination would have disqualified a man for a marching ensign's commission, the half of the beautiful territory of Oregon was given up, and the settlements of the North-West were handed over to the Americans, the line of demarcation being run into a place which had since led to a dispute about the island of San Juan. He was going to say that the colonists would be better without such protection, but he would leave them to say that for themselves when the time came. This protection, however, was plainly all a mistake, although the Chancellor of the Exchequer said they were protected, and assumed to know more about Canada than these gentlemen did; but that was not true. He would ask them whether they wished to spread general bankruptcy throughout the colony? The Chancellor of the Exchequer said that the prediction of "ruin" was not well founded; but "ruin" was 2104 not the word used—the terms were "great dissatisfaction." There was certainly a class of politicians in this country, who used words so ambiguously that there was no meeting their arguments. But Mr. M'Avity, as the right hon. Gentleman had observed, was about to quit England; and how did he get back to New Brunswick? First he had to go to New York, from there to Canada, from Canada back to Portland, and from Portland he would take the steamer to New Brunswick, because the colonists had not a road which they could make use of to reach their capital. They were told that this repeal of the differential duties was free trade, and a colonist was expected to return home crammed with this wonderful specific, which cured all diseases. "Look at the opulence of this country," it would be said to him; "see how rich we have become since we adopted the policy of free trade!" But then he would go to the United States, where he would hear it said, "See how rich we have grown under protection!" The conclusion he would come to would probably be that neither the Americans nor the English were right, and that a midway system of reciprocity was the true policy. That such was the true line to take this country would find out one day. Perhaps, however, the Chancellor of the Exchequer would tell them the longest way round was the nearest way home. But there was another gentleman who was at all events known—he alluded to Mr. Rankin. If there was a man associated with British North America who was acquainted with the timber trade it was Mr. Rankin; but, like a true Scotchman, he was now about to retire from a trade that would not pay him. He would not read that gentleman's letter at that hour, but he would only refer to one passage in which he stated that, in 1840, the balance of the timber trade in favour of the colonies was 1,511,000 tons, whereas in 1859 the balance in favour of the foreign trade was 2,614,626 tons. When these men from the colonies had exhausted themselves they got the most experienced men in Liverpool, with whom they thought to make a great combined effort and send a petition to that House. When they began to explain matters in that petition they were stopped. It was irregular. Like bad game they were told it ought to be bagged. After they had very briefly and ably stated their case, they looked round to see if there was a man in that House 2105 who cared for British North America. There was no one in Downing Street. There was no use in going to the Colonial Office—there they carried out the wishes, not of the colonists, but governed, the Colonies according to the wish of the Government. But they found in him, their countryman, a very unworthy representative. They sent their petition to him to present, he could not state their case with that effect he could have wished; and, feeling the difficulty of the case, he proposed to the Chancellor of the Exchequer that these 3,000,000 people should be heard at the bar of the House. [A laugh.] Yes, those who considered the unrepresented rabble of England worthy of being heard night after night thought nothing of 3,000,000 of vastly more intelligent and able people than one-half of the constituency above the ten-pounders in this country. He should be more or less than a man if he did not stand up for his countrymen on the other side of the Atlantic, where his family had been for 100 years consecutively under the flag of the old country; and if they did not listen to their sole advocate, and if they did not regard their appeal with that deference it deserved, it would be echoed back with throats louder and stronger than his. What was the answer he received; "Such a thing was unheard of; "but he said their claim was not without precedent. There were precedents to which he could refer. He would refer to one, not exactly upon all fours with this, as lawyers would say, because the tax was to be paid there, not here. Dr. Franklin was heard at the bar of the House, and told them, as he now told them—but Dr. Franklin did it in triumph, while he did it in sorrow—that their legislation would lose them their colonies. Dr. Franklin's prophecy had been fulfilled. He prayed to God his might not be. A pretty reception Franklin met with. What was the language of Wedderburn? He pointed to him and called him a thief and murderer, and a man that had forfeited the good opinion of mankind. It was not a very encouraging thing to be heard at the bar of that House. But Franklin wrote a little treatise which he might recommend some hon. Gentlemen to read—for they were travelling on the same road,—in which he showed "how a great nation may be made into a very small one." The people had certainly acted with very great fairness and very great moderation. They had instructed him to ask for no remission 2106 of duty where it might affect the shipbuilder, but there was a particular description of timber that was manufactured in their sawmills on which millions had been spent, and which must be taken into consideration. The supply for the timber trade was all prepared the year before, no notice was given, and if the trade were cut short ruin would follow, not as regards the supply of Liverpool—that must come; but the labour would not be paid, the contractor with the labourers would not he paid, the merchants that supplied them with manufactured goods would not be paid, and then would come the question among the colonists, "We have all the disadvantages of belonging to Great Britain, and not one of the advantages; shall we set up for ourselves? We are as numerous as the Americans were when they conquered their independence—3,000,000 of more sterling stuff than any they had; shall we part good friends—shall we make our own treaties, or annex ourselves to our neighbours with whom our commercial interests are so nearly allied? "The Chancellor of the Exchequer had already spared some; he had granted a drawback to the paper manufacturers and also a drawback on wine. Were their children and friends in British North America, the props and supports of this country, not to be regarded with equal consideration as the manufacturers of a bit of paper? The Chancellor of the Exchequer said, he had heard these complaints before, but an appeal to figures showed that since the passing of Sir R. Peel's Act reducing the duty on timber in 1842 the number of vessels that entered the St. Lawrence had been either diminishing or stationary. It was true that in 1845 an active demand took place, in consequence of a revival through railway speculations, but after the cessation of these it declined again. Among the very ablest shipmasters in the port of Liverpool were colonists who had left their own country on account of the stagnation of trade caused by the timber duties, while many more had been exiled to the ports of Boston and New York. Considering that the production of British North America and the Baltic countries of this particular kind of timber was pretty equal, for, although labour was cheaper in the Baltic, yet there was superior skill and enterprise in the British colonies, there were great difficulties for the latter to overcome. He found that freights from Gothenburg to Hull were 32s. 6d., while from New Brunswick to 2107 Hull they were from 80s. to 85s. If the reduction of the relative duties should take place the result would be that the Baltic timber merchant would make his profit from it and would say that Nova Scotia would be ruined entirely. That, perhaps, was a small view to take, and not sufficient to justify a long speech, but he had listened to what sailors called "long yarns" about the want of a reserve for the navy while those who talked about it did not always seem to know how to get it. Every merchant and trading company which formed a reserved fund did so from its abundance after paying expenses and profits, but the reason why our reserves for the navy had not answered was because our navy was not sufficient for us. And if this country were to retain the supremacy of the seas, was it wise to cast off the third greatest shipping Power in the world—British North America, which ranked next to the United States? But while British shipowners were complaining, while British North America was being ruined, France was acting very differently. She gave bounties (which he did not ask England to give) for the deep-sea fisheries, and had now 30,000 seamen upon the banks of Newfoundland, which she was really annexing, while our attention was taken by an ignis fatuus in Savoy, which, however interesting, as it really was, did not so nearly affect us. He did not ask for bounties, but these small timber duties, these small favours to the sailors, who would be our help in time of need, might well be spared. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had talked of the protection afforded to the colonies by our army and navy, but they did not need that help. In time of peace two or three vessels to protect the fisheries would be ample. He was aware that nothing could be more distasteful to the people whose interests he was advocating or more unacceptable by the people of this country than anything which bore the appearance of a threat; but he must remind the House that the country he was speaking of had all the disadvantages of a connection with England without any of its advantages. The inhabitants were not people who should be trifled with; they were rather entitled to expect kind if not paternal usage. Persons of the calico school, who regarded nothing but the manufacture of cotton, said that the United States were better customers now than when they were colonies, and that it would be no great loss to get rid of 2108 British North America. These at any rate were not patriotic sentiments, and they were not facts. The United States were in a great measure settled by rebels from the country—Cromwellians—but during the trying time of the American revolution, British North America remained true to the Sovereign, and when the revolution was over, thousands of loyalists passed from the States, and sought a home in the wildernesses of our present North American colonies, in order to have the honour and satisfaction of living and dying under the British flag. Those were the men who begot the present race, and who had transmitted their feelings of loyalty to the present generation. Nothing was so repugnant to the feelings of such people as to be treated with ridicule. In 1812, when Napoleon was marching to Moscow, and it was believed that the day of Great Britain's glory and power was declining, the United States declared war against the mother country. Who then repelled them in America? Was it the army or navy of England? Of the first we had none to spare, all our men being gloriously engaged in a life and death struggle in Europe. It was the Local Militia of Canada who drove back the hordes of invaders from those lands and pursued them beyond the borders. And at a later period, when French emissaries among a French population, and Radical Chartists who had left this country for one where they were taught to believe they would find no nobleman to whom they need take off their hats, made a hostile movement, what had happened? Who, let him ask, had repelled that invasion? The Militia of Canada; for when Sir G. Cockburn asked Sir F. Head if he could spare the services of the regular troops, that able and popular Governor, who was a standing testimony of the ingratitude of the statesmen of England, replied, "Take them all. I will place myself at the head of the Militia, and drive those men out of the country." The people of Canada, then, he contended, deserved some consideration at the hands of the English nation. In addition to the other claims which they possessed to it, he might mention the fact that the colonists had, as soon as they were able, relieved this country from hearing the expense of their local Government, and had taken it upon themselves to carry it on on a scale of munificence and liberality which was almost unequalled. They paid the Governor General whom England sent out to them, out 2109 of the meagre treasury of a young colony, a salary nearly double that which was received by the President of the United States; and the people of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and the other colonies acted in a similar spirit. And what was the return which was made to them? On a recent occasion, when the question of what names should be given to four different townships in our North American provinces had been referred to the Governor General for his decision, his wife had had the good taste to impose upon them the names of Tiny, Floss, Hops, and Emily—these being the names of the pampered lap-dogs of a pampered master. Against their enemies the colonists were able to protect themselves; he asked for protection for them against the repetition of such an insult as that which he had just mentioned. Why, the Americans acted better by their negroes than to treat them after such a fashion. Instead of naming them after lap-dogs, they called them Cato, Scipio, Venus, and Juno, after the heroes of antiquity, and the goddesses of the ancient mythology. Were our North American colonists the sons of dogs that they should be placed upon a lower level than the negro? Pie, for one, should enter his indignant protest against acts so insulting as that to which he referred. But it was urged by the Chancellor of the Exchequer that the colonists imposed taxes upon English produce. Who was it, he would ask, that directed them to do so? Those who presided in that beautiful establishment in Downing Street, which operated as a nightmare upon our colonies, and who sent out instructions to the effect that the foreigner was not to be taxed, and that England would get into trouble with respect to her treaty engagements if there were not discriminating duties. Still, it was contended that the colonists taxed England; but it should be remembered that it was they themselves who virtually paid the tax. They had good reason, therefore, under all the circumstances which he had stated, to complain of the position in which they were placed. They were ridiculed by their American neighbours in a way which was most painful to their feelings. The people of the United States said to them, "You now belong to England, but associate yourselves with us, and you shall have 10 Members in the Senate and 140 in the House of Representatives. Instead of being encroached upon by us, you would become one of us, and we should take care 2110 that nobody should interfere with you. Instead of being excluded from a share in the patronage of our country, you would have open to you all the offices of an united empire. The negroes of St. Domingo have their sable representative at the Court of London; you have none. Will you longer submit to occupy a position so inferior?" Such were the taunts with which the people of Canada had to bear; let him beseech the House of Commons not to afford cause for their continuance, and not to place it out of the power of colonists to belong to this country. In using the language to which he had given expression he was not afraid of being misunderstood. The whole object of his life and writings had been to unite, by bonds firmer and more indissoluble, Canada with England, to unite the raw material of the new country with the manufacturing skill of the old, in order that, both possessing one language, one literature, one blessed system of freedom, they might grow together in prosperity and greatness under the ancient and glorious flag of Britain. To the sentiments which he had uttered that evening he had often before given expression, although in a form somewhat different, entertaining, as he did, an earnest hope that relations might endure for ever between the two countries which were calculated to be profitable to both.
In line 31, after' planed or dressed,' to insert the words, except deals, battens, and boards, which shall remain at the present duty.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, it was not necessary that he should detain the House for more than a few moments as it would be quite out of place to enter upon the wide field which the hon. and learned Gentleman had with so much ability traversed. He had entered upon the whole subject of the relations between Great Britain and the North American colonies, and had expressed with great frankness his views of what he conceived the ungracious treatment which the colonies had received at the hands of Great Britain. He had had, at any rate, practical experience, in doing so, of the disposition of the House to permit and encourage free discussion. He concurred with the hon. and learned Gentleman in the sympathy and respect which he felt towards the colonists of British North America, but he must confess he regretted some of the language the hon. and learned Gentleman had 2111 used, and the comparison he had thought it necessary to draw to their disadvantage. The opinion which the hon. and learned Gentleman had expressed, that the colonists of British North America were ungenerously treated, was not one which the Government entertained, nor did he think it would meet with any considerable expression of concurrence on the part of the Committee. Indeed, there was something of paradox in his comparison between the conduct of our forefathers at a time when the old Tory opinions, which he so much eulogised at the beginning of his speech, prevailed, in laying a tax on the British colonies, and the conduct of parliament in relieving the people of England of a tax which they alone were paying. As regarded the question of the timber duties, there was no occasion for him (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) to enter into it; because the very brief and simple considerations which he thought would govern the policy of Parliament with respect to it were stated in a letter of his which the hon. and learned Gentleman had paid him the compliment to take as a text for a large portion of his speech. The hon. and learned Gentleman had been pleased to characterize that as a haughty and supercilious communication; but it was somewhat remarkable that he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) had only yesterday received a reply to that letter from Mr. M'Avity, the gentleman to whom it was addressed, in which he particularly thanked him for the very courteous terms in which it was couched. But he was bound to say that he had no evidence, except in the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman, of that burning dissatisfaction—that rankling sense of wrong—which he described as prevailing among the people of British North America. He (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) took it to be an undoubted fact that Parliament had now been long engaged in the removal of differential duties, both at home and with respect to colonial produce, and that of all the interests with which it had had to deal there was no one with respect to which it had proceeded more gradually, tenderly, and cautiously than the timber trade of British North America. In 1842, 1850, and in other years, when protecting duties had been reduced, notice had been given; and he believed that this had long survived every other object of colonial protection. He believed the opinion of this country was fixed on this subject, and he had no evidence before him,' except the 2112 speech of the right hon. Gentleman, that the very just and moderate measure of the Government was in any manner resented by the people of that colony. Indeed, the question was so thoroughly understood by the House and the country that it would not be necessary for him to discuss it at greater length, and without intending any disrespect to the hon. and learned Gentleman he should now leave the decision to the Committee.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 24: Noes 91; Majority 67.
§ Clause agreed to, as was also clauses 13 and 14.
§ Clause 15,
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER moved the insertion of the words:—
That the extra rates above charged upon any goods which shall have been removed under bond shall not apply to removals under bond to warehouses in ports or places which now possess the privilege of bonding.
He did not consider this Amendment represented the state in which the law should finally remain; but for the present, he was content to take the rate as applicable to new places.
§ LORD JOHN MANNERS
said, he should move that the Chairman report progress, as it was quite evident, from the right hon. Gentleman's admission, that the clause, as proposed, was not likely to settle the question.
§ House resumed.
§ Committee report progress.
§ House adjourned at half-after One o'clock, till Monday next.